More than 500 people have turned out each day for the first-ever Destin Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament at the Destin Community Center.
"We had 233 last night for the Fort Walton Beach game," said Chuck Hopkins of the city of Destin's recreation department. Clicking off folks as they came in, Hopkins said they have had as low as 71 people for a game, but more than 150 for most.
Hopkins noted that most of the people attending the games are from out of town.
"We've had a lot of people introduced to Destin," he said.
The tournament, boasted eight girls teams from all over the southeast including Fort Walton Beach and Paxton from Florida; Houston Academy from Dothan, Ala.; Corbin High from Kentucky; Marist from Atlanta, Ga.; Smith County from Carthage, Tenn.; Anacoco from Louisiana; and New Site from Mississippi.
"We've been pleased," said New Site Coach Ronald Clark. "We like the facility and it's a good opportunity for our kids to get out and travel and play some good competition. It's been a good experience for our kids."
Fort Walton Beach Coach Holly McDaniel said she and the Lady Vikings have enjoyed playing in the tournament.
"They've treated us likes queens," McDaniel said. She also likes the venue, noting that the community center fills up quick making it feel like they are playing before packed house.
"The turnouts have been really good," said Scott McKinney, tournament director. "The teams that came in from out of town brought a lot of people with them and we're getting nothing but positive reviews for the city and the facility."
Although this is the first of this kind of tournament to be held at the Destin Community Center, it wont be the last.
"We'll do it every year," McKinney said. "And hopefully after I'm dead and gone, they'll still do it. We want to keep this alive. It's good exposure for the city, and a lot of these folks here will come back for summer vacation hopefully."